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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
08-30-2012

Partnership honors Pierce, Mason and Thurston county leaders for protecting and restoring the health

Photo: http://bit.ly/Q2iqeW

TACOMA – The Puget Sound Partnership recognized five “Puget Sound Champions” from Pierce, Mason, and Thurston counties for cleaning up polluted waters, restoring habitat, and advancing other priorities in the Action Agenda—the regional plan to restore the health of Puget Sound by 2020.

The Partnership is the state agency leading the cleanup and restoration of Puget Sound.

“These awards honor some of the many excellent examples of businesses, residents and governments working together to cleanup the Sound and keep it healthy for future generations,” said Ron Sims, governing board member of the Partnership and former King County chief executive. “You are the essence of saving Puget Sound and we commend your commitment and dedication.”

Sims presented the awards during a meeting of the Alliance for a Healthy South Sound, a regional coordinating group convened by the Partnership to prioritize, fund, and carry out the most important actions to restore the health of Puget Sound.

2012 Puget Sound Champions honored include:

South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement GroupHabitat Restoration
Replacing culverts and removing bulkheads are some of the many on-the-ground restoration projects necessary for protecting endangered salmon. The Partnership honored the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group and their Executive Director, Lance Winecka, for managing and helping advance more than 170 restoration projects from concept to completion.

George Walter, founder of the Nisqually Land Trust - Lifetime Achievement Award
The Partnership honored Walter with a lifetime achievement award for habitat protection. In 1980, when the plan to restore and manage the Nisqually watershed was first drafted, only 3 percent of the Nisqually River shoreline was protected. Today, 75 percent of the Nisqually River shoreline is protected. By many accounts, Walter has been at the center of achieving the remarkable progress through his long-time leadership as an employee of the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources and founder of the Nisqually Land Trust.

Oakland Bay Clean Water District Education Subcommittee - Public Engagement Award
A growing population threatens water quality in South Puget Sound, one of the nation’s premier shellfish growing regions. The Partnership honored the Oakland Bay Clean Water District Advisory Committee’s Education Subcommittee for its work to encourage homeowners and livestock owners in Oakland Bay to regularly maintain septic systems and improve manure disposal. As a result, the Partnership is seeing less bacterial contamination of Puget Sound. The Director of Mason County Public Health and Chair of the Oakland Bay Clean Water Advisory Committee, Vicki Kirkpatrick, accepted the award on behalf of the subcommittee.

Mason County Commissioner Lynda Ring Erickson applauded the Tribes, shellfish growers, farmers, business owners, residents and public agencies for working together to improve water quality. “Clean water is the heart of our economy, culture and quality of life in Puget Sound,” she said. “We improved water quality in Oakland Bay because we came together, identified and invested in the top priorities, and did not walk away from our commitments.”

Erin Ewald, Pierce Conservation District - Pollution Prevention Award
Pollution is a major problem throughout Puget Sound, especially in the South Sound region. Supporting local farmers and maintaining working agricultural lands is part of the solution. The Partnership honored Ewald and the Pierce Conservation District for effective leadership to help Pierce County farmers reduce pollutants from flowing into Puget Sound. Ewald is the small farm planner for the district, providing outreach and education to farmers and the public in the Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor, and Islands watersheds.

Earth Friendly Products - Green Business Award
Earth Friendly Products is an internationally known local company honored for their leadership in developing, manufacturing and promoting green cleaning supplies that strengthen the local economy and protect Puget Sound. Office Manager, Kim Shellabarger, accepted the award on behalf of Earth Friendly Products.

Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero praised the sustainable practices of the Earth Friendly Products, saying, “What matters is what they put into their products and what their products don’t put into Puget Sound.”

BACKGROUND

The Puget Sound Partnership is the backbone organization that coordinates the efforts of citizens, governments, tribes, scientists and businesses to set priorities, implement a regional recovery plan, and ensure accountability for results. By combining efforts and clearly defining priorities, more than 2,440 acres of habitat have been protected, 70 miles of streams and rivers have been restored, and game-changing restoration projects have been advanced since the Partnership was established through bipartisan leadership in 2007.

PUGET SOUND CHAMPION PROGRAM
http://www.psp.wa.gov/champions.php

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